London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The launch of the new pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen satellite television channel represents the latest expansions of the “axis of resistance” media, by which we mean Iran, Syria and armed political movements such as Hezbollah. Al-Mayadeen is headed by Ghassan Bin Jiddo, a well-known Tunisian journalist who quit Qatari-based Al-Jazeera TV last year in protest to what he perceived as one-sided reporting in favour of the Syrian opposition. Nayef Krayem, the owner of the Lebanon-based Al Ittihad TV will be Al-Mayadeen’s General Manager, whilst the channel will be based in Beirut. Krayem previously served as Director of the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV.
Commenting on the choice of Beirut as headquarters for Al-Mayadeen satellite television channel, Lebanese MP Nihad Al-Mashnouq informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “Beirut has served as a political and media operations centre for the Iran project in the region for quite some time.”
During a recent interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, Al-Mayadeen’s new director of programming, Ghassan Bin Jiddo, demonstrated his complete support of the so-called “axis of opposition”. He also claimed that “the regime of Bashar al-Assad is being subject to an international conspiracy”, despite the Syrian regime’s policy of violence and suppression which results in unarmed Syrian civilians being killed on a daily basis. He also stressed that he “opposed the Gulf States’ policy of supporting the arming of the Syrian opposition” claiming that this policy represents a “declaration of war” against the “axis of resistance”.
Asharq Al-Awsat contacted Ghassan Bin Jiddo to speak to him about the Al-Mayadeen project but did not receive a reply at the time this article went to press.
For his part, Kuwaiti writer Sami al-Nasef told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the axis of resistance’s use of the media demonstrates their failures. This can be seen in Iran, Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Nasser’s Egypt. The aim of this media is to mislead public opinion and divert attention away from their developmental and human failures on the ground.”
He added “As Arabs, we are always greatly affected by discourse that plays on emotions, especially the rhetoric that describes some of the reasonable ideas of the axis of moderation as treasonous and negligent. This is because we do not understand that correct political action is based on realism, moderation, and rationality. The media that adopt the Iranian and Syrian agenda in the region do not want to promote such political action.”
Al-Mayadeen satellite channel revealed that it had recruited a number of journalists who had formerly worked for Al-Jazeera TV, including Sami Kulayb and his wife Luna Shibl. Shibl has served as a media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Al-Mayadeen staff also reportedly includes Zahi Wehbe, Lina Zehreddine, Lana Mudawwar, Muhammad Alloush, Ahmed Abu Ali and Dina Zarkat, amongst others.
A well-informed Al-Jazeera TV source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Jazeera’s Beirut bureau – which had previously been headed by Bin Jiddo – witnessed “something like a mass defection from Al-Jazeera to Al-Mayadeen.” The source also revealed that numerous Al-Jazeera presenters and editors had resigned from the Qatari-based station over its coverage of the Syrian revolution.
For his part, Lebanese MP Nihad Al-Mashnouq told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is no longer possible to protect the al-Assad regime, no matter how professional the media outlet is. No journalist can cover up the massacres and huge bloodshed that the regime is committing against the Syrian people.”
He added “unfortunately, no serious Arab security, political or even media action has been carried out to confront this Iranian project.”